So what followed was a bit depressing for the Impact. Rather than winning a championship, Montreal limped to one of the worst finishes in its history. It was a forgettable season with only two wins in the first 17 games. Although things ended much better, with Montreal among the best teams in the league over the last 10 weeks (7 wins), the Impact failed to make the playoffs.
This is what’s been going through my head as this season of expectations starts. Of late, the Impact have disappointed when they were supposed to excite and excited when they were supposed to disappoint. Not much was expected in the second MLS season and they made the playoffs. Much was expected in the third and they were the worst team in the league. Then they made the CCL final…
It’s a trend. And a worrisome one for the Impact fan because this is the “bad” year of the trend and a year that started with the whole "will he or won’t he" situation with Didier Drogba.
Ah, Drogba. One doesn’t want to entirely focus on Drogba when talking about the Impact in 2016 but it’s hard not to. Like it or not, he is what makes an average MLS team potentially great. If he plays with passion like he did in 2015 then maybe the Impact break the pattern of good-bad-good…but if he has one leg back in London then maybe the season ends in disappointment.
Like it or not, 2016 is the Season of Drogba in Montreal.
Maybe it’s the optimist in me that thinks that Drogba will be a force again. He’s an athlete that has always played with pride and it’s hard to imagine that he will want to end his career on a sour note. With teams like Chicago and Philadelphia in the East the Impact should be able to make the playoffs without much effort even without Drogba (you’d hope, anyway) so what’s important will be how they end the year, not start – so, he can rest when needed and not play on turf until August.
Then another sprint to the finish line.
Since coming into MLS the Impact have failed to reach the heights they had in the second division. It’s time to change that. It’s time to break the pattern and believe in the possibilities.
And it all starts Sunday in Vancouver!
William Tremblay-Gagnon will write on the Impact in 2016 in his column Making an Impact